If your trips to the drug store are getting to be as costly as your grocery bill here’s a wakeup call for you.
The hundreds of dollars you spend on prescription meds that promise to regain the thick, healthy hair of your youth, you might be better of shelling out for better meals instead. More studies are showing that there is a direct link between nutrition and hair health.
That’s ’cause thickness and health of hair is primarily determined by two factors…
First is the number of follicles on your scalp. This is genetically predetermined, and there is little you can do to alter what you were born with.
Well, you wonder – if that’s the case, why do all your kiddie pictures have you sporting thick hair while your adult version deals with wispier strands?
As we grow up, the size of our skull naturally stretches, and our hair follicles are more evenly spaced out. While this seems like hair is thinning as you grow up, it’s a normal part of the aging process.
The second factor is the thickness of the hair follicles themselves. When it comes to hair follicles, the thickness is directly proportional to the health of your hair. The minaturization of follicles occur naturally as we age for various reasons.
Genetics play a role, but lifestyle and direct access of hair follicles to nutrients are also factors, and these are two things that are easily within our control.
A wide bevy of nutritious food, especially those rich in proteins, iron, and amino acids should be mainstays in your diet if you want to maintain hair follicles that produce thick, healthy hair for as long as possible.
Ready to overhaul your grocery list? Read on below for the must eat foods for healthy hair you should definitely stock up on.
Iron Rich Proteins
The simple assumption would be protein is essential for hair growth because hair is made up of protein, but there’s a bit more to it than that.
The proteins we consume are made up of different amino acids, and these amino acids are the building blocks to the structural proteins that our body produces, such as keratin. To produce keratin, the amino acids methionine and lysine are essential and can only be sourced from our diets.
Why does it have to be iron-rich? Because aside from amino acids, hair follicles need an ample amount of oxygen for healthy hair growth. Hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying part of your red blood cells, are composed of iron. Without the iron, your hemoglobin concentration dips, and oxygen can’t get through to your follicles anymore. This causes the follicles to shrink and produce thinner strands of hair that are prone to breakage. Luckily, iron-deficiencies is one of the easiest to treat with a proper diet.
To get your dose of proteins rich in both iron and the essential amino acids, go for the round eye cut in beef, lean fish such as tuna, and other kinds of lean meat such as turkey breast.
Pretty much every nutritionist has done a 180 and the consensus is unanimous: some fats are very, very good for you.
The trick lies in determining the right kinds of fat to include in your diet.
Monosaturated and polysaturated fats are good for the body since they do your heart a favor by decreasing triglycerides. Plus, these don’t block the arteries. An improved circulation system already has an direct benefit on the hair (gets more nutrients and oxygen to your hair follicles), but aside from that eating good fats has other hair perks too.
Proven hair vitamins such as Vitamin A and E are fat soluble, so they need to be dissolved in fat before your body can benefit from the nutrients.
Omega-3 fatty acids are great sources of fats that have additional hair benefits. About 3% of your hair shaft and a significant percentage of the natural oils in your scalp are composed of fatty acids, and these preserve the health of the hair by making it less brittle and prone to external damage (and breakage).
To get a yummy serving of healthy fat load up on cold-water fish like tuna and salmon as well as snacks like nuts and seeds. Cooking with – and using as dressing on your salads – oils rich in monounsaturated fats like olive oil is also an easy way to incorporate healthy fats into your regular diet.
Biotin in particular is essential for production of healthy hair since it acts as a catalyst to break down the proteins we consume and turn it into usable, keratin-convertible amino acids for the hair.
Folate is also an essential vitamin in the B group since it improves our circulation system by aiding in the production of more red blood cells, the trusty carriers of both nutrients and oxygen to our hair follicles.
To stock up on B vitamins, munch on beef, beef liver, tuna and salmon, turkey, and eggs. Vegetarian? Shop for oats, bananas, avocados, potatoes, kidney beans, almonds and spinach.
As for Biotin – its richest food sources are mushrooms, avocados, tuna, salmon, turkey, liver, eggs, as well as leafy greens like Swiss chard.
When it comes to vitamin A for hair, it’s more of a preventive supplement than anything else. The presence of Vitamin A in your body helps regulate retinoic acid.
This is good news because retinoic acid in the body can cause a hair loss condition called Telogen Effluvium, wherein the hair’s natural growth cycle is disrupted, causing hair follicles to stop growing new hair.
When you’re looking to add more vitamin A to your diet – a good rule of thumb is to be on the lookout for bright red and orange fruits and veggies.
Like sweet potatoes, for example – just 100 grams of this yummy veggie gives you 384% of your DV for vitamin A. Other heavy-weight vitamin A contenders are carrots, dark leafy greens, squash, dried apricots, and sweet red peppers.
Ah, the infamous beauty vitamin. But why’s it so good for hair? Well, aside from aiding the blood circulation necessary for healthy tresses, Vitamin C also urges the body to produce more of its skin protecting natural oils.
These natural oils in the hair are a great way to maintain the hair shaft’s health by reducing the friction between strands that cause brittle hair. Vitamin C is also key in the production of collagen and elastin that add strength to your hair shaft by protecting if from external elements such as free-radicals and smog which weakens the structure of the hair.
When you think “vitamin C” – citrus fruits probably come to mind. And that’s not a myth – it’s spot on. Citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruit, lemons and limes are great sources of vitamin C…but they’re not the only ones. Other delicious fruits like pineapple, kiwi, papaya, strawberries, cantaloupe and raspberries are also rich in vitamin C.
The best whole food source for vitamin C, though, is hands down camu camu – which is a true superfood for healthy hair and skin. Camu camu is the richest known source of vitamin C, with something like 20 to 50 times the level of vitamin C found in oranges!
It’s also super easy to add into your diet – simple blend it with several other hair-healthy fruits and veggies and make yourself a nutrient-abundant, hair-growth smoothie!
Magnesium is important for maintaining the health of your hair follicle by strengthening the cells that line the papilla. At the same time, magnesium also aids in keeping your thyroid in tip-top shape to prevent hormone-related problems that disrupt the normal growth cycle of the hair.
You can get your fill of magnesium from dark leafy greens, nuts and seeds, fish, whole grains, avocados, bananas, yogurt and our favorite – dark chocolate 🙂
Popularized by Klaus Kaufmann as the forgotten nutrient, the importance of silica definitely deserves to be be highlighted more, especially for the role it plays in healthy hair growth and thickness.
As a trace mineral, silica is vital in bonding other minerals in the body and in making sure that the body absorbs them. It also aids in maintaining the precarious balance between calcium and magnesium in the body that staves off hormonal problems that can result to hair loss.
Silica is also a necessity to your body’s connective tissues, including the ones present on the hair shaft, so it aids in strengthening hair and repairing any structural damage caused by friction and open hair cuticles.
Horsetail is the richest source of plant silica and you can get this as a tincture or herbal tea, as well as extracts in powder or capsule form.
But silica is also easy to get in your daily diet – whole grains like millet, barley and oats are a great source of silica, as well as potatoes, artichokes, beets, and the humble cucumber (with skins on – that’s where it’s most mineral-rich).
Zinc is essential in converting the protein we eat into the hair follicles needed amino acids to create keratin. Aside from that, it also aids in collagen production which are deposited into the hair shaft to fatten up the diameter of the hair.
Seafoods – especially shellfish like oysters and crabs – are the richest zinc-containing foods. Beef and lamb are also great. As for plant-based zinc sources, stock up on wheat germ, spinach, pumpkin seeds, nuts and dark chocolate (raw cacao is even better).
Other vitamins are also showing promise when it comes to hair benefits. Vitamin D in particular is being studied extensively for it’s role in hair growth. Researchers from Cairo university are speculating that vitamin D helps in regulating “the expression of genes that promote normal hair follicle growth”.
The good news when it comes to Vitamin D is that this doesn’t have to be an additional line in your grocery list.
Sufficient Vitamin D can already be synthesized by your body with just regular sun exposure. Studies show that exposure ranging from 5-30 minutes up to 3 times a week is enough for your body to get the Vitamin D dose that it needs.
So go get you some sun!